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Are You Eligible for a VA Pension?

by Ken Enright / September 16, 2019

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) manages two disability benefits programs: compensation and pension. Both programs provide tax-free monthly payments to qualifying veterans. However, the two differ in terms of eligibility requirements. This blog post focuses exclusively on the non-service-connected pension.

What is a VA Pension?

The VA pension was created to compensate disabled or elderly veterans who volunteered to serve their country during a time of war.

How is Eligibility Determined?

Benefits are awarded by satisfying three criteria:

  • Wartime service. For pension purposes, veterans must meet certain service requirements:

  • Veterans who served on or before September 7, 1980 must have 90 continuous days of service with at least one of those days during wartime

  • Veterans who served after September 7, 1980, must have served at least 24 months or the full period they were called up

What Service Periods Are Eligible?

Wartime Service is only recognized for the following time periods:

  • Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)

  • World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)

  • World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)

  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)

  • Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)

  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)

Do You Have To Show Need?

You must demonstrate a financial need to receive the VA pension. Your “countable family income” and net worth must fall below the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR.

  • It is important to note that all income must be reported to the VA to avoid overpayment. This includes Social Security payments.

  • Medical expenses, including expenses for nursing home care, can be deducted from your income by submitting VA Form 21P-8416. This may end up increasing your monthly pension payment.

What Age Do You Have To Be?

For pension purposes, veterans must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Age 65 or older with limited or no income, OR

  • Totally and permanently disabled, OR

  • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR

  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR

  • Receiving Supplemental Security Income

If you feel you may be entitled to a VA pension, or if you have any questions regarding your VA disability claim in general, a skilled veteran’s law attorney can help you obtain the compensation you earned. As always, we only charge a fee if your appeal is successful.

Do not hesitate to contact us at either the Whitcomb, Selinsky Law PC or its sister firm, the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group, to obtain the assistance you need. Our conveniently located Denver office can be reached at (303) 534-1958 or by completing a quick and convenient online form.


Tags: Veteran’s Administration Compensation Pension Exam Veteran’s Administration pension program

previous post Is Your Disability Service Connected?
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